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Gaumont Treasures: 1897-1913
Gaumont Treasures 1897-1913
Actor: Felix Mayol
Director: Alice Guy;Louis Feuillade;Leonce Perret
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
NR     2009     10hr 0min

10 HOURS 75 FILMS 3 DISC — The invention of cinema and its growth into a sophisticated art form are vividly brought to life in this massive collection of films from the early years of the influential Gaumont Film Company. E...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Felix Mayol
Director: Alice Guy;Louis Feuillade;Leonce Perret
Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Silent Films, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: Kino Video
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color
DVD Release Date: 09/01/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 10hr 0min
Screens: Black and White,Color
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaDVD Credits: 3
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

The founding works of the oldest film company in the world
calvinnme | 05/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Much of the following information is currently in the product description. However, this information seems to come and go without warning, so I am placing this information in my review. First, from the Press Release for this three disc set:


Alice Guy (later known as Guy-Blache) was an early woman director at a time before the movies were taken seriously as an industry and the men took over. These films were produced by Guy for Gaumont before she moved to the US, reveal her to be an unqualified pioneer whose work stands alongside that of the Lumiere Brothers, Georges Melies, and Edwin S. Porter, in cinema's rapid growth from an optical illusion to a storytelling medium to an art form. Among the highlights are a 19th-century serpentine dance, early (trick) films, experiments with hand-coloring and synchronized sound, comedies, social commentaries, and a 33-minute religious epic: The Birth, the Life and the Death of Christ (1906).

(1897) The Fisherman at the Stream / Bathing in a Stream / Serpentine Dance by Mme. Bob Walter
(1898) The Turn-of-the-Century Blind Man / At the Hypnotist's / The Burglars / Disappearing Act / Surprise Attack on a House at Daybreak
(1899) At the Club / Wonderful Absinthe
(1900) Avenue de l'Opera / Automated Hat-Maker and Sausage-Grinder / At the Photographer's / Dance of the Seasons: Winter, Snow Dance / The Landlady / Turn-of-the-Century Surgery / Pierrette's Escapades (In Original Hand-Tinted Color) / At the Floral Ball (In Original Hand-Tinted Color) / The Cabbage-Patch Fairy
(1902) Serpentine Dance by Lina Esbrard / Midwife to the Upper Class / An Untimely Intrusion / Miss Dundee and Her Performing Dogs
(1903) How Monsieur Takes His Bath / Faust and Mephistopheles
(1905) The O'Mers in The Bricklayers / The Statue / The Magician's Alms / Clown, Dog and Balloon / Spain / The Tango / The Malaguena and the Bullfighter / Cook & Rilly's Trained Rooster / Cake Walk, Performed by Nouveau Cirque / Alice Guy Films a Phonoscene / Saharet Performs the Bolero (In Original Hand-Tinted Color) / Polin Performs: The Anatomy of a Draftee (A synchronized-sound Phonoscene) / Dranem Performs: The True Jiu-Jitsu (A synchronized-sound Phonoscene) / Dranem Performs: Five O'Clock Tea (A synchronized-sound Phonoscene) / Felix Mayol Performs: Indiscreet Questions (A synchronized-sound Phonoscene) & (In Original Hand-Tinted Color) / Felix Mayol Performs: The Trottins' Polka (A synchronized-sound Phonoscene) / Felix Mayol Performs: White Lilacs (A synchronized-sound Phonoscene)
(1906) The Birth, the Life and the Death of Christ / An Obstacle Course / Madame's Cravings / A Sticky Woman / The Hierarchies of Love / The Cruel Mother / A Story Well Spun / The Drunken Mattress / The Parish Priest's Christmas / The Truth Behind the Ape-Man / The Consequences of Feminism / Ocean Studies / The Game-Keeper's Son
(1907) The Race for the Sausage / The Glue / The Fur Hat / The Cleaning Man / A Four-Year-Old Hero / The Rolling Bed / The Irresistible Piano / On the Barricade / The Dirigible Homeland
Curated by Pierre Philippe - Total running time: 225 Minutes - Full-Frame (1.33:1) - Music by Sorties d'Artistes, except The Birth, the Life and the Death of Christ: Music by Patrick Laviosa


Probably best remembered for the serial Les Vampires, Louis Feuillade had a more varied and profound influence upon French cinema than many of his followers realize. For more than a decade, he was the artistic director at Gaumont, encouraging the rise of such filmmakers as Abel Gance and Leonce Perret. This collection of films offers a wider view of Feuillade's directorial efforts, though it is only a small portion of the nearly 800 films he is believed to have directed. These films run the gamut of ribald comedy (The Colonel's Account), charming fantasy (Spring), tragedy (The Heart and Money), social commentary (The Defect) and historical epic (the remarkably poignant The Agony of Byzance). The Trust: Or the Battles for Money and The Obsession are characterized by the brisk pacing and diabolical tone for which he would become famous and fall in line with the thrillers he is better known for.

The Colonel's Account (1907, 4 min.)
A Very Fine Lady (1908, 3 min.)
Spring (1909, 7 min.)
The Fairy of the Surf (1909, 7 min.)
Custody of the Child (1909, 11 min.)
The Defect (1911, 41 min.)
The Roman Orgy (1911, 8 min.)
The Trust (1911, 24 min.)
The Heart and the Money (1912, 17 min.)
The Obsession (1912, 23 min.)
Tragic Error (1913, 24 min.)
Bout de Zan Steals an Elephant (1913, 9 min.)
The Agony of Byzance (1913, 29 min.)

Louis Feuillade: Master of Many Forms - This collection of scenes from more than twenty films demonstrates Feuillade's mastery of (and influence upon) a wide range of cinematic genres.
Curated by Pierre Philippe - Total running time: 217 Minutes - Full-Frame (1.33:1) - Music by Patrick Laviosa


Until now, the films of Leonce Perret have been virtually unseen in the United States , yet he was a hugely influential figure in the growth of the French film industry. As an actor, he appeared in more than 100 films from 1909 to 1916, including the long-running series of (Leonce) comedies. But his greater contribution was as a director. Working at Gaumont under the supervision of Louis Feuillade, Perret set the standard to which other French filmmakers aspired. His films had a technical mastery and aesthetic grace that allowed them to reveal subtleties of character and meaning. Perret's artistic maturity is beautifully represented in the influential feature The Child of Paris, a naturalistic drama reminiscent of Emile Zola. Of this film, critic Georges Sadoul proclaimed, Leonce Perret was able to render a graceful and lively story by using an extraordinarily refined cinematic repertoire: backlighting, low-angle shots, close-ups, moving shots and numerous other innovations, all of which Perret implemented with flair, in stark contrast to...the still somewhat primitive technique of David W. Griffith at that time. Perret made a number of self-referential films, in which the medium of cinema is a component of the plotline. In The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador, an amnesiac woman undergoes a sort of cinematic hypnosis as a means of recalling the details of a tragic crime.

The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador (Le Mystere des roches de Kador) (1912)
Color Tinted - 43 Minutes - Directed by Leonce Perret
The Child of Paris (L'Enfant de Paris) (1913)
Color Tinted - 124 Minutes - Written and directed by Leonce Perret

Leonce Perret: The Filmmaker's Filmmaker - Illustrated with rare film clips, this mini-documentary reveals the artistry and wit of French cinema's unsung hero.

End of press release.

Gaumont is the oldest film company in the world, having been founded in 1895, and the only one of their early products that I am entirely familiar with is Judex. I have seen several of Alice Guy's work via the Treasures of the American Film Archives sets. Of Louis Feuillade's work I have seen Les Vampires. I am looking forward to seeing the work at Gaumont in the very early days. Like the Edison set, do realize that most films made before 1910 in both America and Europe were of an experimental nature and do not really tell a story."
Perret disc offers fascinating alternate history of early fi
Michael Gebert | Chicago, IL USA | 10/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"After watching the two Leonce Perret films in the Gaumont set, the word that seemed to sum him up for me is "cerebral." I don't mean that there's psychological depth such as you might find in Scandinavian films of the teens here; the characters in both are more or less the standard two-dimensional types of Victorian melodrama, vigorously portrayed by French actors with obvious stage training, but types nonetheless.

But the films take a cool, methodical approach to melodramatic tales that others (not least of them Perret's coworker Louis Feuillade) would have made more lurid. That's both their weakness-- in the end, L'Enfant de Paris seems to forget that it's about a child and not some other, less emotionally freighted Macguffin-- and their strength, for movies of 1912-3; they are carefully worked out, logical, and thus unusually credible for melodramas of their time. If the delight of Feuillade's serials is the sense that any social order could be overturned at any moment, part of the satisfaction of Perret's is this sense that his world is so solid.

Both films on the set are crime films, that genre which simultaneously presents a vision of the world's proper order and of its subversion. In The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador, which runs about 45 minutes, a guardian (played by Perret himself) conspires to steal his ward's fortune in a manner that turns violent; she winds up in a sort of catatonia, and to jog her memory, a film is made of the events and shown to her (and us). More could have been made of this theme of a film within a film, how true what we see is, etc., but it's pretty remarkable that it's being done at all in 1912. The one major flaw in this film is Perret's own casting-- plump and genial-looking, he's a natural comedian (which he was, in fact), and he doesn't exude the cold Victorian heartlessness the part wants. Still, the open air photography and the clinically precise staging of events in medium shot make this an unusually fluid and lucid film for 1912, that could easily have come from five years later.

The longer and more noteworthy film on the disc is a feature running over two hours from just a year later, The Child of Paris. I first heard of this in an interview thirty years ago with Edward Gorey, and it's hard to imagine a more perfect audience for this movie, with its tale of an innocent little girl who loses her parents (one in war, the other to the usual collapse Victorian wives succumb to) and winds up in the hands of scoundrels, only to acquire a purehearted protector in their ranks. (He is, in a nod to Hugo, a slight hunchback.)

The unspooling of this melodrama is hypnotic, in Perret's clear-eyed and skillful telling; even so well-crafted an American film as Traffic in Souls from the same year seems remote and unsteady compared to the clean, perfectly efficient visuals and editing here. That said, it is a modest disappointment that the little girl-- a charmingly capable miniature Bernhardt, able to pull off every Victorian stage gesture never seen in real children-- becomes little more than a prop over time; her plight is never milked for the emotional effect it could have. If there's an apparent flaw in Perret's work-- comparing it not to other 1913 films but to the later teens films it seems the peer of-- it's that he doesn't seem as interested in his actors as you'd like him to be. They're all obviously skilled, and play their types perfectly to type, and he shoots them in medium shot so we can actually see their faces; but there's no reason for a movie called The Child of Paris to be decorous in its playing-- it ought to pull out all the stops and jerk tears like Griffith a few years later. What starts as a serial seems to end as a neatly solved puzzle.

Still, this is an enormously important disc that, as some of the articles previously posted here point out, does some serious rewriting of the standard film history. In the last few years we've gotten a real picture of European cinema in the teens and early 20s that blows away the old Griffithcentric film universe, replacing it with the picture of directors all over Europe pursuing different ends, from the delirious pansexuality of Joe May's The Indian Tomb to the psychological introspection of Sjostrom and Stiller to the neorealism of Feyder's Visages d'Enfants. From the Perret disc alone, it will be hard to think of a more important release this year, or a more fascinating and rewarding one, than the Gaumont set."
Historically Invaluable
Anthony Crnkovich | Chicago, Illinois | 03/10/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This eye-opening DVD set from Kino just goes to show that we can't always rely on what the film history books have been feeding us with. Most of the films here are way more sophisticated than what people like to assume about cinema's formative years. Hopefully, the filmmakers represented in this collection will finally receive their due for being the far thinking creative forces that they undoubtedly were. The evidence of what they did to help propel the growth of motion pictures is all right here in this historic set. By all means get it and see for yourself. It'll change what you think you know about the early years of movies."